The Power of Parking


The Power of Parking

Three Parking Today advertisers were recently featured in an article in The New York Times about the future of parking. That’s some pretty great coverage, if you ask me. I know there are different perspectives on the newspaper’s relevance and reliability, but as an entity, it is unarguably one of the country’s most established and esteemed publications.

LAZ Parking, SP Plus, and Flash all made appearances in the piece, written by Stephen Williams, and published on July 9 – titled “The Parking Garage of the Future.”

Flash’s marketing executive, Neil Golson, and Flash’s chief executive, Dan Sharplin, talk about the evolution of parking and the end of unplanned parking.

Jeff Eckerling, SP Plus’s chief growth officer describes how the pandemic hit the parking industry and outlines its return from rock bottom to better than before. LAZ Parking got an honorable mention, but no quotes.

The language in the article was particularly inspiring (even though the tone was slightly skeptical). I’d like to share some of the most notable words and phrases.

“Mobility hub” and “silo”: This phrase and word both identify parking as the “center” of transportation. Parking isn’t just where you put your car, it’s where you plan your day, your trip, your life. The parking garage or lot is the destination for the beginning of an errand or event and the departure point for the same. That’s a lot of responsibility for the parking industry. And an exciting way to frame a point of service as more than a point of service. A hub or silo is more exclusive and powerful than just a parking spot.

“Utopian”: if this word doesn’t get parking pros excited, and a little terrified, I don’t know what will. The article is defining parking as a potentially ideal process that not only functions seamlessly, but makes storing your car a Shangri-la-type activity. This might seem like a lot of pressure – or an amazing opportunity.

“Digitally-centered platform”: Anymore, when we talk about a parking platform, it has nothing to do with the physical structure of a parking garage. It has to do with the method, the network, and the resources that support the activity of parking. You pay on the platform, plan on the platform, offer feedback on the platform, and so much more. Making it digital puts the power in the hands of the user (or rather, the user’s phone). It also opens up the possibilities to an almost limitless level. Visiting another country next fall? Prepare your parking now. Dropping off a package? Pay for 10 minutes and nothing more. Never touch a coin or a kiosk or lose your car again. That’s what the digital platform can do.

“Accidental driver”: I’m an accidental driver pretty much all of the time – though I never thought of it that way. One minute I’m busy working at my desk and the next I’m jumping up to take my daughter (the one who doesn’t drive yet) to a friend’s house. When I need to plan my parking ahead of time, I usually forget until the last minute and then scramble, feeling like a dope, to organize an integral part of my trip. What if, one day, I have to plan my parking if I expect to have any? I know I’ll need some serious technology to accomplish that.

“The history of the parking garage in the United States isn’t particularly romantic”: I have to argue this point. Depending on your idea of romance, it is sometimes the practical matters we take for granted that make life sweet. Coffee in the morning, a “hello” at the store, candy on the receptionist’s desk. These are small pleasures. Romance isn’t always obvious. Cars were born, streets were carved into the land, and the miraculous vehicle needed a safe place to rest. Parking was conjured out of necessity and creativity – a need for transportation and a love for mobility. Parking isn’t the star of the show – it’s the stage.

The article ended with the stark reality of people’s parking abilities, and the huge task of providing parking for the masses, by describing an electric vehicle driver trying to plug into a standard outlet. It’s hard to be essential and omnipresent at the same time – and that is the task the parking industry carries out every day.

Regardless of the challenges the people of parking face, national news coverage of the industry is a big deal. Success for one is success for all.

Whether the history of parking is romantic or not, it’s phenomenal – and it’s not over. The parking industry is making history now, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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